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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Drowning in Choices

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

As Problems Go, This is a Nice One

I’m writing because some websites are failing to load for me. I figure they’ll probably kick in just as I start getting interested in this blog post.

I’m trying to look at Marion County properties a realtor emailed me. Before I contacted a realtor, I went to Zillow and other sites and found a few properties worth saving. Now I have a bunch of new ones to look at. You would think an Internet search would turn up everything worth looking at, but the realtor found a lot of fantastic stuff that didn’t appear on Zillow.

It looks like the hard part will be narrowing the choices down. I’m overwhelmed. These places are so beautiful, I can’t believe I could end up living in one of them.

For some reason, the prices of properties don’t seem strongly related to the acreage. A place with 10 acres will not necessarily cost much less than one with 31 acres. Obviously, this means I’m excited about the big places. With 10 acres, shooting in my yard could conceivably annoy neighbors. If I get 31, as far as I’m concerned, they can put their complaints in a sock, because I will be way too far away for anyone to have a legitimate gripe.

Why do people live in Dade County (now named Miami-Dade because Spanish-speaking foreigners can’t figure out that “Dade” means “Miami”)? The lots are small. The traffic is starting to rival Hong Kong’s. The people are very, very rude. You have to repeat yourself over and over when you buy things, because half of the population can’t understand English. If everyone here were getting rich, I would understand the draw, but Miami is a poor city. I guess the allure is the knowledge that you can move here, refuse to learn English, and do okay.

There are a lot of variables to look at when I go through these properties. I want reasonably good soil so I can grow food when America finally collapses, so I am looking at the photos and trying to weed out the places that are all pine and no hardwood. I don’t want too much horse stuff. Supposedly, keeping one small barn on a property will bring some sort of tax advantage, but some of these places have tracks and 5000 square feet of stalls.

The north part of the county might be better for my dad, since he will need to be reasonably near good medical care (i.e. Gainesville).

The thought of having a workshop I can roller skate in is intoxicating. I watch other people’s Youtube videos, and some of their shops are nearly empty. It makes me want to jump through the screen and lie down on the cool, satisfying concrete. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have that kind of space. Some of the places in Marion County appear to have shops as large as 2000 square feet. I would never, ever leave. I would move the bed into the shop.

Now that I think about it, I’m not sure what I need a house for. Oh, yeah. Now I remember. My dad will want a place to sleep.

You know what’s really exciting? We could conceivably have a tractor. A man with a tractor is a man to be reckoned with. In addition to chores like bush-hogging (boring!), you can use a tractor to move machinery, do light earth-moving jobs, and generally wreak havoc. I don’t know if I would actually use one. I might just go out into the shop and hold it, like a Hillary voter holding a rented puppy.

I always say I have no ambition. Now that has changed. My ambition is to move to a rental property, screw around with my tools, have all sorts of prayer meetings, get old, and die. Judging from what I’ve learned so far, when I get up there, I may have a lot of competitors in these pursuits.

This morning I read something from 2 Peter:

For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority.

Reading that made me very emotional. To think that God might get me out of here and put me among better people…that is true generosity.

Lot lived in Sodom, and God called him righteous. If you read about Lot, though, you will see that he wasn’t what we would call a saint. He wasn’t on the same level as Abraham. Lot’s deliverance shows that God will help people who fail a lot. That tells me he is willing to help me.

I can’t go back and rejoin the crazy, ungodly world. Life has gotten truly insane. If you’re any kind of a Christian, you now have a target on your back. People will do their best to take away your livelihood and blackball you so you can’t get hired or own a business anywhere. You can’t even have a bakery, because vicious people who don’t really want your cakes will come to you and order wedding spreads just to get you put out of business.

Our culture has gone nuts. This week a female performer named Beyonce (you probably know who she is) did a dance number for the Grammys in which she dressed up as a voodoo “goddess,” put a halo on her head, and had other dancers worship her. She threw in elements of the Hindu “god” Shiva. People lapped it up. If you criticize her on Facebook, her warped fans (the “Beehive”) will come after you and heap abuse on you.

A few years back, Madonna did a similar act in which dancers dressed as demons worshiped her.

Americans see nothing wrong with things like this now. Satan is officially mainstream. People think it’s cute. They don’t realize these “gods” represent real spirits that hate Yahweh.

We’re so filthy now, and so proud, most of us are beyond God’s reach. Persecution will now increase, and it won’t be that long before the state treats us the way Nazi Germany treated Jews. If you think it can’t happen here, wake up. The Germans and Austrians were more civilized and orderly than we are now, and they built the death camp ovens.

I can’t go back. I can’t give up what I have. I can never rejoin the devil’s system, so I will always be faced with bitter, cruel opposition. Unless God wants me to live in complete subjugation and misery, he will have to provide a way out, and I think that’s what he’s doing.

The sites loaded, and I went over the properties and made notes.

You can get more property for your money when you move away from Ocala and Gainesville, but then you have to think about the aggravation of driving half an hour to get to Lowe’s or the nearest hospital. Also, my dad likes to have lunch in restaurants. I just looked at a place called Williston, and it appears that the choices are basically fast food, two BBQ joints that get dubious reviews, and diners.

On the whole, a restaurant shortage in a wonderful place is a much better problem to have than being stuck in a rude, crowded city and having restaurants that are sort of okay.

I really want to go lie down on a concrete shop floor. Like, now.

If I ever manage to choose a place, you will read about it here.

Pipe Dreams

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

My Joint Ventures are Faring Poorly

Unbelievably, I had to re-re-redo the PVC pipes on my pool pump. I’m starting to think PVC is cursed.

I fixed it last month, and then I waited for the pump shed to dry out. I figured I could continue cleaning and improving once the water was gone. I went out there a couple of days ago to check on things, and the floor was still wet.

Worse, the accumulation of dirt and leaves covering the floor was still wet.

Here in South Florida, all pool guys are English-deaf. You can’t tell them anything. And if you do, it doesn’t matter, because they won’t do it, or they will be replaced in three weeks by new people who didn’t get el memo. I figured the persistent water problem was caused by the pool guy’s continuing failure to tighten the pump lid down, and by my continuing failure to check it whenever he left the property.

Yesterday I took a closer look, and water was dripping from my new pipe system. Incredible.

The crud on the floor was there because all landscape guys in this area are English-deaf. They are also unable to use rakes. They use leaf blowers for everything. You can’t tell them not to use leaf blowers, and the blowers blow dirt and leaves into every opening available. Over the years, it adds up.

I got a shovel, a hoe, and a shop-vac, and I removed a tremendous amount of dirt and plant matter. I actually saw the concrete floor; it’s not just a myth. It’s really there.

Before I got into this mess, I hated slip joints. A slip joint is a place where a pipe slides into a fitting. It has no threads. You have to cement it together, and after that, you can’t take it apart. I hated them because I thought they were a copout, and because they turn repairable systems into replaceable systems. If you have one bad fitting in a big conglomeration of parts that are cemented together, there is a good chance you’ll have to throw everything out and start over. I liked threaded joints, which can be taken apart.

I now think slip joints rock, and I hate threaded joints.

When I examined my pipes, I found that the cemented joints were fine, and at least two threaded joints were leaking, giving me a threaded-joint failure rate of about 67%.

I had to get out the sawzall (which I don’t capitalize because it’s not a Milwaukee) and cut the pipes off the pump.

I got on the web and looked around, trying to find out what I should do. Are threaded joints just plain bad? Were my joints too tight? Were they too loose? Should I have used tape instead of dope?

Here is what I found out: dope is better than tape (yay), and doped joints have to be tightened as hard as humanly possible.

My leaking joints were very tight, but they leaked anyway. I didn’t tighten them as much as I could have, because I was afraid the fittings would split. Now my feeling is, tighten away, and if the fittings split, get new fittings. Buy extra fittings before you build your joints just in case.

This time, I took the offending structure out of the pump shed and put it in my bench vise. I tightened the joints way, way, way down, and I reinstalled everything. I had to replace one threaded joint, so I used a 24″ pipe wrench to tighten it. I used a ton of dope. I was not going to tolerate a too-dry fit that prevented the male end from bottoming, and I was not going to put up with water leaks caused by gaps in the dope.

Is this the correct way to do it? I do not know. I know that the common sense way didn’t work, so now I’m using the brute-force moron approach, and so far, I have no leaks.

I used a huge amount of cement on the new slip joints. Cement melts PVC, so presumably, if you use a lot, you end up with lots of fused plastic to prevent leaks. That is my hope.

I guarantee you, there is no one within 30 miles who would have come here and done this job correctly in exchange for money. This county is the doofus capital of the universe. Even though I’ve done it wrong twice, I still feel like I’m way ahead of the game. I only spent like a hundred bucks, and I didn’t have to yell at anyone or threaten to sue.

It’s a shame I can’t fix roofs. Don’t even get me started on that nightmare.

Here is my advice: if you have to do PVC plumbing, only use threaded fittings when you have a compelling reason. Tighten the crap out of everything, use dope instead of tape, and use lots of cement on slip joints. Buy a sawzall, too. It will cut any PVC joint ever made in under ten seconds.

Make sure you tighten your threaded joints as early as possible in the process to get them into their final form. See to it that you leave slip joints for last, because they can be wiggled and adjusted before you add the glue, helping you to get things aligned. If you move a threaded joint, you risk creating a leak.

Now watch the pipes start leaking, proving everything I just wrote is wrong.

I hate swimming pools. Biggest con since time shares.

Spreadsheets are not Where I Excel

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Bring in the Dart-Throwing Chimp

What joy I’m having today. I wish everyone reading this could share it with me. I mean it. All four of you.

Maybe it’s more than four. I finally decided to find out what Feedly is, and it looks like I have 39 subscribers. Hey, it’s your time. If you really think this is a good way to spend it, I guess I don’t mind enabling you.

I’ve spent a good part of the day learning to use a spreadsheet program. I mainly use my garage computer these days, and because I’m too cheap to pay for Microsoft Office, I put Open Office on it, and it includes a spreadsheet. That’s what I used.

I was comparing homeowner’s insurance quotes. Yes, you may shoot me if you are in the area.

If insurance brokers actually wanted you to understand what you’re buying, they would use a standard quote form. I can state with confidence, but without research, that by 2016, this thought has occurred to someone in the industry. Instead, everyone makes up a form, and comparing them is nearly (and intentionally) impossible.

Here is my primitive understanding of spreadsheets. They allow you to make huge tables of things you want to compare or analyze, and you can do bulk math on the stuff in the boxes. I think that’s correct. I haven’t done any of the bulk math stuff.

I made three lists for three quotes, and I tried to line up corresponding costs so I could compare them. After I was done, I found out I actually had two quotes that looked like three. Or something. I still haven’t figured it out.

I’m only a lawyer. I shouldn’t be expected to understand insurance quotes directed at the ignorant masses.

The quote I like is the one that appears to try least hard to hide things from me.

The main thing I’ve learned is that hurricane windows are probably a good idea. I guess that was helpful. Hurricane windows cut insurance costs by almost two thirds.

I found some people to give me window quotes. I wonder if I’ll be able to understand them.

I also found tech specs for the sprinkler pump I ordered, so I should be able to get the crap I need to install it and turn it into a plug-and-play job by the time the pump arrives.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I’m a riot.

No, what will actually happen is that I will scout out the correct parts and prepare them as well as possible, and then a bunch of unforeseeable stuff will happen, and I’ll end up in the pump shed, covered with filth, using the wrong tools to do a bad job fixing problems I don’t really understand.

This is not my first rodeo.

I can predict in advance that I will do a much better job of installing the pump than anyone I could hire. That’s a certainty. I guess the pros keep getting their parole revoked before they can get really good.

I’ve never been in a penitentiary (let’s hope my luck holds), but they must have really wonderful roofs, sprinklers, and landscaping. Practically everyone in there who isn’t a lawyer is in one of those fields.

I don’t know how Feedly works, because I do not read blogs. My fear (not a big one) is that subscribers get the first version of anything I write. If so, I feel for them, because I never proofread until I’ve published the first version. I feel especially bad for anyone who comes and posts an angry comment based on a typo or something I deleted during proofreading. Like I’ll type something like, “I like women who have a lot of class” and forget to type the “cl.”

I have been somewhat productive today, and I have suffered tremendously, so I feel like I can allow myself to get back to The Iliad and knock off a few dozen pages. Yesterday I did something like 130 pages. This is like reading 3000 pages of a normal book while someone sprays soapy water in your eyes. I was determined to get it behind me, so I made the sacrifice.

Just a normal sacrifice. Not a hecatomb, complete with bulls and boars and bird entrails.

It looks like Hektor is not long for this world. When I exited Scrib’d, he was talking smack to Achilleus.

Greek heroes are a great deal like WWE stars. They can’t just kill you. They have to stand in front of a crowd and give a juvenile speech first. It’s sad, really. Both guys will talk about how bad they are and how they’re going to send the other guy to hell in several shipments blah blah blah, and then one sentence later Homer is telling you how the head of one’s spear is going in the other’s ear and out through his tongue, separating his teeth from his jaws and causing his eyeballs to pop out and roll in the dust.

I guess the Greeks never heard the expression, “I ain’t going out like that.” They DO go out like that. Over and over.

After a Greek hero kills you, he strips you naked and takes your armor (lot of good it did you), and then he either leaves you there for the dogs to eat, or he cuts up your dead body for fun. And then leaves you there for the dogs to eat.

So your Greek buddies are still running around having a gay old time, jabbing each other with lances, and there you are, naked, several yards from your eyeballs. And the guy who did it is probably giving another speech and laughing his butt off.

I fail to see the appeal.

Dogs, worms, and crows seem to do well in these stories.

I may actually finish this book today. I certainly hope so.

Not Pumped

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Mexican Electrics, Unbelievably, Fail the Endurance Test

The sprinkler pump adventure is not over yet.

My old pump is supposed to have 1.5″ plumbing, minimum, and the motor should be 1.5 HP. When I cut the old PVC off, I found that the pipe had narrowed to 1.25″ or less, and it was globbed up with plastic. The walls weren’t smooth and straight. It was like the inside of a cave. The pump (a Mexican replacement for the original) was 2 HP, so I was paying for electricity I didn’t need.

For some reason, I thought irrigation pumps were expensive. I just assumed. The one I had was heavy cast iron, and it was made in America, so I figured it cost a ton. When I saw a replacement motor for $165, I thought it was a deal, so I bought it.

Today I got the motor out of the shed, which was not fun at all, and I carried it to my bench. That’s about fifty yards, and it probably weighs 75 awkward pounds. I took the motor apart in pieces and then found I was going to have a hard time getting the shaft out of the impeller. The shaft should have been stainless, but it was very rusty, and there was no way to access the impeller without taking the pump apart. The pump was pretty much a unit, with the halves welded together by rust caused by the installer’s decision to leave the iron base sitting just off the ground surrounded by wet leaves.

I decided to derust the pump. I put it in a shop vac tub with water and soda, and I connected a battery charger.

After all this work, I went on the web and started researching pumps, and I found out a new one is only $300. That’s not chicken feed, but I was thinking $600 or something, based on what the sprinkler guys were saying. They are just as hopeless as the pump.

Now I have a new pump on the way, and I’m trying to cancel the new motor. I’m hoping they didn’t ship it yet. I ordered it late on a Friday. I don’t care. They are welcome to the return shipping fee.

After all this misery, I have learned some important things. I already mentioned the bad installation and the screwed-up pipes. I also learned that the motor I just trashed wasn’t grounded. Somebody could have been killed working on it. The person who installed it deliberately left it that way. I believe that would be the same company that just came out here and failed in almost every regard. Now I know not to call them again.

I’m going to install the new pump myself because NO ONE IN SOUTH FLORIDA CAN BE TRUSTED TO CONNECT THREE WIRES AND DO ONE FOOT OF PLUMBING. I would love to pay someone, but apparently that would be like going to the vet for a vasectomy.

Once it’s in, I’ll find a reputable sprinkler company on Angie’s List and kiss the old outfit goodbye forever.

I don’t know what to use for a pump base. Wood will rot. Even pressure-treated wood rots eventually. I should go get some aluminum channel. It will outlast the sun. It will get pretty crusty in the damp shed, but it won’t disappear like wood, and it won’t petrify with thick rust.

Tradesmen are getting really stupid. At least it seems that way. I know virtually nothing about irrigation or electrical work, but I am miles ahead of the professionals who have worked here.

Black Socks, Bermuda Shorts, and a Warm Ma Deuce

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

The Dream is Within Reach

I had the funniest experience yesterday.

I was watching American Pickers, the show about the guys who drive around buying old stuff other people have hoarded. They resell it, usually at about a 100% markup. They burrow through barns and attics, and they meet all sorts of interesting people. Very often, they end up on big properties with one or more outbuildings, and the buildings are full of junk.

Yesterday, they took a random right turn and ended up on a dirt road which had not been selected in advance (supposedly). They went past a “KEEP OUT” sign and stopped at a building resembling a garage. They hollered and went in, and they found two weird old guys playing homemade musical instruments. They were surrounded by tools and knickknacks.

I heard myself think, “THIS IS HOW I WANT TO LIVE.”

Not so much the sitting around with another old guy, playing music on an instrument made from a plunger handle and a Chock Full of Nuts can. Not that part. The part I liked was being a good distance off the road, on a big property, with no one aggravating me. In a building with concrete walls. Surrounded by cool stuff.

They visited another guy later. He was some sort of engineer, I think. I don’t remember. Naval something or other. He had a lathe, a huge bending brake, lots of grinders, a giant vault, and God knows what else. There were old tin toys there. He had a wooden wind-tunnel model of a plane; his uncle had built it for some outfit that was trying to make supersonic aircraft.

I realized one of the major differences between my garage and his shop was character. He was doing more to keep his junk ordered. I tend to avoid the garage in the summer, because the heat is bad, and a couple of pieces of garage door insulation fell off a while back, which made things worse. The garage was a big mess.

Day before yesterday I went out and fixed the insulation and straightened up a little. After I watched the pickers show, I continued. I went back to work on my garlic press project. You can’t really clean up a shop if there are old projects lying around.

In cross-section, from the side, the press is an H. It’s a stainless tube blocked by a plate about halfway down. The plate will have holes in it, and there will be a plunger which mashes garlic through the holes. Think of a hypodermic syringe with a sieve instead of a needle at the end. Sort of like that.

I had a cylinder made, and I had bored out one end of it. I needed to bore the other end, leaving a 0.10″-thick plate in the tube, for the holes to go through. I considered doing this on the lathe, but the steel I’m using throws ungodly long chips, so I stuck it on the mill and used a 1/2″ end mill.

08 28 13 garlic press body on rotary table

It took forever, dropping down 0.025″ at a time and going through 360° of rotation, but I got it done. Now I have to radius the sharp edges and drill the holes. The plunger is already done. It fits so well, when you drop it in the press, it sinks in very slowly, because it’s hard for the air under it to escape.

That’s cool. I like to drop the plunger over and over and watch it sink.

It’s looking more and more like I’m getting out of here. God be praised. I would say that even if I were an atheist. I do NOT NOT NOT like Miami. I want to be able to go outside and walk a hundred yards before hitting a property line. I want to hear English once in a while. I want to be able to wear long pants occasionally. I want to be able to drive ten miles in less than twenty minutes.

My dad has a 46-foot boat which has been a problem. He uses it as a place to hide out, which is fine, but it’s his main motivation for staying in Miami. I can’t let his hobby ruin my life. I want him to enjoy himself, but this is too much to ask. He doesn’t want me to move 700 miles away, and I understand that, because of his age. I’m against it, too. But if I have to leave without him, I will do it, because this place is not right for me.

Today he started talking about selling the boat. Thank you, Lord. He could keep it in Pensacola (currently my preferred destination), and maybe that’s the better option, but I’m glad to see him consider unloading it. It shows God is breaking things loose.

I am not excited about practicing law, but it’s a pleasant way to earn money, and if I can do it up there and generate income without becoming a cubicle slave, you better believe I’ll do it and be grateful.

Some people need room. I guess I’m one of them. I have several worthwhile hobbies you can’t indulge in a small suburban house. I want to be able to shoot on my own land. I need a shop with an area of at least 800 square feet. I need a normal-sized kitchen. Until I get these things, I’m going to feel like I’m wearing a burlap straitjacket.

I feel bad for my dad. Rejecting God preserves your pride, but it costs you peace and satisfaction. God is ordering my path, and he would gladly order my dad’s path, too, if he would give in.

I’ve located some tempting properties in the 20-acre range. That will suffice. I’d rather have a hundred, but from this chair, I can see three houses without standing up, so 20 will seem like heaven itself.

Prayer in tongues lines things up. It makes things happen. People reject this advice. I can’t help that. I put it out there. Benefit from it or don’t. At least I can say I told you.

Hopefully by this time next year, I’ll have a shop and some tomato plants. That would sure be nice.

Welcome to Zoar Farms

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Where the Cows Lick Pillars of Salt

Sorry I did not come by to weep with everyone on Tuesday night. On Monday, I had a 2-phone-battery conversation with somone who thinks going into drug rehab is somehow a service that benefits ME, and I decided to get up the next day and get out of Miami.

Ocala. That’s what it’s all about.

To recap, I went to Winter Haven to help launch a new church, and I felt like a runaway slave. Afterward, I started thinking about moving north. Then my buddy Mike started talking about Ocala. Either that, or I came up with the idea myself. Can’t remember. I started looking at Ocala real estate on the computer, with the intensity of an Obama campaign staffer researching Romney’s overdue library books. I found out that you can get a magnificent farm up there for the cost of a little-bitty house in Coral Gables. I’ve been making lists and looking at Google Earth a lot.

Originally, I thought I would go alone, because I didn’t think my father would ever leave this place. Then he started coming around. That was great, because I refuse to have a mortgage, and if we both go, we can have a much nicer property.

I checked out fourteen places, from two acres to forty, if I recall correctly. If I had to describe this area, I’d say it looks a great deal like the area outside Lexington, Kentucky, only without the backwardness and bigotry. I hope. Mike says everyone got along great at the racially mixed school he went to in Ocala.

I had read that the dirt up there was too sandy for growing things, but that’s not true. I saw all sorts of hay, and people were growing stuff in their yards. It may not be the finest dirt on earth, but clearly, it works. We don’t really have dirt in Miami. A lot of this area has a few inches of white sand over oolite (coral rock), and when they build houses, sometimes they add a little muck from the Everglades, so you end up with grey sand. To plant a tree in my yard, you have to use a mattock and cut a hole in the rock. I’ve pretty much had it with our dirt.

I was able to move between properties ten miles apart in about as many minutes. As a victim of Miami, I can’t even express my joy. The traffic here is nearly unbearable, and the worst part about it is that when you finally get out of the car, you’re still in Miami.

There are actual hills up there. At one point, while driving, I felt pressure in my ears. I didn’t think that was possible in Florida.

I also enjoyed hearing English. Diversity is swell, but I get very, very, very tired of playing charades to make myself understood in the United States of America, by individuals who have been here since Carter.

People get mad at me because I can’t understand their bad English. One of the biggest night school subjects here is ESOL, or English for Speakers of Other Languages. That’s great, but they haven’t gotten around to adding UESOL, or Understanding English for Speakers of Other Languages. Funny thing, I find it easier to talk to relatively new Haitians than Cubans who have been here 20 years. The Haitians learn English very quickly, and when their English isn’t good (very rare), I can talk to them in French.

Anyway, I do look forward to saying everything ONCE.

The Romney signs…they were everywhere. I saw a few Obamas, but not enough to matter. Mike says a politician who runs as a Democrat in Marion County has no shot. I love that.

I would say the Ocala area looks, well, not hectic. I suppose it could get dull. But I don’t do much anyway, in terms of going out on the town. I don’t like movies because my feet stick to the floor and people yap in Spanish. I don’t like restaurants because I cook better than they do. Clubs…don’t even joke. I can generally be found at home, at church, or running errands. My assumption is that if I join a good church up there, I’ll have a social circle within two to three months, and after that, life will be much as it is here, only without the unpleasant sensation of being in Miami.

I saw a lot of wonderful things. Barbecue restaurants, plural. All sorts of businesses related to farming. They would be helpful to a tool-oriented person hoping to get into things like canning food and maintaining a workshop. There’s a Krystal restaurant in town. They don’t have a Costco, and that will smart, but you can’t have everything. There’s a Gordon Food Service 60 miles away. I wanted to be remote, so I shouldn’t complain.

It may be hard to find a place that doesn’t have horse paraphernalia. I am not going to have much use for a barn. I know people will say I can put a workshop in it, but horse barns are cut up into little stalls. I think it would be pretty hard to convert one. Mike says we can rent stalls to people. Basically, they would be paying to give me handy manure.

I don’t know much about maintaining rural property, even though I’ve owned a ton of it in common with family. As far as I know, you don’t have to do much with barns and land. We did virtually nothing to the farms we sold, and they held their value. I don’t want to end up bush-hogging thirty or forty acres once a month, or mowing a giant yard.

I’m going to try to put together a plan and get this done. Things are probably going to get very bad now that we have chosen Obama a second time, and if a depression hits the cities, the entitlement flash mobs will be invading houses en masse, raping, killing, and stealing. Or “stealing BACK,” as they would say. Places like Ocala will be very dangerous for that crowd. Up there, a guy with scoped rifles (and friends with scoped rifles) might have a real advantage over liberal dentists and accountants in Coral Gables. I guess it sounds like I’m planning to move so I can shoot a bunch of people. No, but I don’t want to be an easy target when the anti-Christian, anti-conservative Kristallnacht comes.

I guess I should write about the election.

Many conservatives are questioning the legitimacy of Obama’s victory. Let me give you a bitter pill. It’s completely legitimate. Unless they turn up an extremely unlikely election-rigging scam which spans many states, no reasonable person will ever be able to deny that we chose this man. We know what he is, and we want it.

People are saying he won because the media didn’t go after him. I’m sure that helped him, but his screwups have been covered fairly well. Everyone who owns a PC or TV should be aware of his failures and negative traits. People claim he won because the public has drifted left. I very much doubt it. I don’t think the public is smart enough to know what left is.

Obama won because a big percentage of the electorate is ignorant and/or not very bright. Grab a typical college graduate and ask him if he has any idea why entitlements lead to unemployment and low productivity, and chances are, he won’t have a clue. The people who decided the election were not favoring leftism. They went for the guy they liked best. They saw the debates, and they thought about things like hair and suits, and at the end, they decided Obama made them feel better.

People who are obsessed with politics think everyone worries about things like the proper level of taxation and the size of our military. In reality, the average voter votes based on instinct, which is something that exists to help creatures who lack the ability or inclination to reason.

Ronald Reagan ran against Carter. He projected confidence and charm, so he won twice. Bush I ran against Dukakis, who looked short, dumpy, and timid, so he won once. Clinton charmed female voters, so he beat Bush I. Bush II seemed less crazy than Gore and less snotty than Kerry, so he got eight years.

I know it’s not really that simple. Policies matter a little. But it’s very obvious that we are as willing to vote for extreme leftists as right-of-center conservatives, so I don’t believe substance means much.

Anyway, Obama is the President, and he is the true choice of the people, so get over it.

As to why Obama won people’s hearts, I believe the answer is supernatural. We have killed tens of millions of unborn babies (and quite a few that were born), we have turned against Israel, a huge percentage of us support perversion, we think fornication is a God-given right, and we are becoming cruel and extremely proud. We pray less than ever, and church attendance is dropping. We are becoming God’s enemies. In my opinion, our reward is national decline. God has blinded us to Obama’s revolting shortcomings, so we did something no reasonable nation would do. We chose Obama not once, but twice.

I was highly disturbed when I saw the election results. I was in a hotel room, trying to sleep, and I stupidly forgot to turn off my phone. People woke me up more than once, calling to express their horror. At some point in the wee hours, I gave up and looked at Drudge. Arrgh.

Before the election, I spent a great deal of time in prayer. I felt great faith pushing through me. I thought a Romney victory was very likely. When I saw that I was wrong, the thing that disturbed me most was not the Obama victory, but the fact that I had believed he would lose. It’s very unusual for me to have strong faith for a result and then to see something different happen. It affects my relationship with God. I will never doubt him or criticize him, but a failure like this makes me reevaluate the things I do in my walk of faith. Am I praying correctly? Am I interpreting what I feel correctly? Is there something else I should be doing? If I’m wrong about this, what else am I wrong about?

I believe God sometimes sets his seal on things. By that, I mean he decrees that a thing will be done, with complete finality. He doesn’t say “if” or “maybe.” It’s done. Period. I believe he reveals this to some people during prayer. Sometimes the rush of faith that follows a request is so powerful, it’s overwhelming. There’s no way to deny it.

This happened to me back when an ex-girlfriend was filing nutty lawsuits against me. One day I was praying in my truck, and a wave of faith hit me, and I grabbed the console between the seats because I felt I would be pushed over if I didn’t have something to hold. After that, I knew I was going to win, and I was right. On top of that, I asked for very specific things in the last two hearings, and I got them.

I’ve also had it happen with regard to other things I’ve asked for. I asked God to do everything within his power to get my father and sister to accept Christ, be baptized with the Spirit, pray in tongues, be freed from their iniquities, and live in power and blessings, and my faith told me it would be done. God didn’t say they would change; he just said he would do everything possible. They still have free will.

I have found that usually, a strong rush of faith that doesn’t reach the threshold of a sealed answer will still get the job done. But sometimes–I think–a small amount of doubt is enough to sink the ship. I think that’s what happened with the election. I felt great faith, but I also felt something pushing back, and I wasn’t able to get to the point where doubt was completely destroyed. It may sound like I’m giving a lot of importance to my prayers, but my religion tells me the prayer of one man held the sun still in the sky, and I am not willing to limit God.

I think that in the future, I’ll have to be careful not to conclude that something is sealed when it isn’t. I also think that when I’m not sure a thing is sealed, and it’s an important matter, I should continue in prayer until I get resolution. That’s my take for now, anyway.

For a long time, I’ve prayed for God to bless and empower Christians, not America in general. I won’t pray for America’s success because America has been harmed by false prosperity. When things go well, we do what the ancient Jews did. We turn away from God, credit ourselves, and sink into sin. I see that happening around me, so I have prayed that God would bring down ungodly people who are in power and strengthen believers. I believe this will help people turn back to God, where they will work to achieve his ends. They will work as they were intended, with his authority, to increase his kingdom in the earth. I think the Obama disaster is God granting prayers like mine. Like the Hebrews who feasted on quail till they puked, we’re going to feast on our own conceit. God will give us the incompetent, dangerous leaders our egos tell us we need, and they will lead us over cliffs until we repent. That’s my best guess.

God is taking away the things we believe in. He is taking away every stable investment. Stocks are shaky, and Obama’s tax changes will kill them. Gold is volatile. Real estate could plummet again at any time. Even cash is sinking. Thanks to Bernanke’s backdoor socialism, if you sell your risky stocks and put the money in the bank, you still lose value. It looks as though a time is coming when everything we cling to will turn on us, and unless we have a good grip on God, we will sink.

This is why I like the rural-compound-with-no-mortgage idea. Little properties in places like Manhattan and Coral Gables are only valuable in good times. They have no real value. A Park Avenue condo, for example, is a tiny box with no soil, even if it costs ten million dollars. Right now it’s valuable because there are a lot of people who have money. When things go bad, people won’t want little boxes. They’ll want acreage, so they can grow things and defend themselves. Bernanke can wreck the dollar, but he can’t dry up your well or prevent potatoes from growing in your yard.

I keep meeting people who have Ocala connections. Mike was the first. I went to church and mentioned it, and I found out that one of the armorbearers already owns 20 acres there and wants to move, but his wife won’t let him. He has a carry permit, and he’s learning to can! One of my best friends, a former armorbearer, is married to a woman who has family in Marion County. She has wanted to move there for a while now. The other day, I mentioned the idea to a friend who used to be part of my prayer group at Trinity. He goes to New Dawn now. He says he went to high school in Ocala. To me, these things seem like confirmation.

I think God is probably going to protect Christians in the years ahead. I think we will do better than ever, while the country sinks. I think Israel will also prosper. America is abandoning Israel, and God never will, so he will find other ways to bless his nation. If Christians and Israel do well, it will serve to ground persecution. No surprise there. We’ve been told to expect it.

When I say “Christians,” I mean charismatics who really know God. I don’t think he’s going to do much for people who don’t have the Holy Spirit, because they don’t hear his guidance as well. They say 20 million confused people who claim to be evangelicals voted for Obama. I think that should tell you how lost a so-called Christian can be.

If I learn anything new, I’ll let you know.

BLOGWAR!!!

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Them’s Fightin’ Words!

A certain blogress grand diva has impugned my culinary skills by pointing out that my recipe for BBQ beans starts with canned beans and ketchup! Oh, the treachery! She says her beans have to be cooked from scratch!

You know, there are some things you shouldn’t try to cook from scratch. Try making Rice Krispies Treats from scratch some day. Not going to happen. I make my own guitars, amps, bullets, beer…but dang, I’m not going to make my own ketchup or grow beans again. The climate down here kills everything. I couldn’t grow tomatoes if I wanted to.

I respect the whole SHTF movement, but you pretty much have to take over a county if you really want to be self-sufficient. Even in the old days, people bought things like sugar, coffee, and flour.

Anyway, I will defend my beans to the death. They are totally righteous.

Crunchy Meat & Sheets of Yogurt

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Food for Faith

Thought I would write a little about my continuing dehydrator adventure.

Yesterday I dried papaya. I have some trees, but I don’t eat the fruit, because it smells a little bit like dog poop. I wondered if dehydration would change that. I suppose I’m picking the papayas too late, and that’s why they stink, but it seems odd to pick a fruit that isn’t sweet yet.

Anyway, I sliced up a papaya and tossed the chunks in lime juice and simple syrup. After about seven hours in the machine, they were dried up to nothing. I tried one, and sure enough, it doesn’t stink like it did before. So now I have a use for all the papayas that come off the trees.

Funny thing…the product is not like the dried papaya you get in stores. It really shrivels up. I’m wondering if there is a difference between “dried” and “dehydrated.” Guess I’ll have to figure that out.

I have not made jerky yet. I think I’ll get ten boliches (eye round roasts) and dry them. It would probably be best to smoke them, too, but maybe I can fake that with Liquid Smoke and avoid the aggravation.

Mike says he has a yogurt machine. Evidently you can make your own yogurt for a small fraction of the price of store yogurt. How exciting. I guess it’s a big blessing, but I’ve never been a huge yogurt fan. I always identify yogurt with the feminist/greenie/Mac/vegetarian lifestyle.

You can use a dehydrator to make yogurt, and you can even turn the yogurt into dry sheets. Weird.

Yesterday I realized I can make shucky beans in the dehydrator. Man, that would be sweet. I need to find a farmer’s market and load up on green beans. Or I could just chicken out and hit Costco. I don’t know if the beans would brown up the way they do when you dry them on strings.

I just got an idea for food storage: corned beef. I look up a recipe on the Cook’s Illustrated site, and it says corned beef is just cured beef. You stick it in a sealed bag with a salt and seasoning preparation, and you let it sit for 7 days. If that’s all it is, it’s perfect for freezing. Seal everything in a bag, refrigerate for a week, and then freeze. That should work, shouldn’t it?

I Googled flooding and crops again, to see if Perry Stone is right about his vision of upcoming food problems. Things don’t look too good. We have no corn reserves, and the weather is not great. The food situation in China is bad. I guess this year will teach me whether I should pay attention to this man’s visions in the future.

The dehydrator looks like a good investment. I still want to get out of here and put some land around me, but until that happens, I think I’ll be fine with stored eats. And I didn’t lose anything by buying a refurb unit. It looks and works like new.

Mike is jealous. Oh well. Now he has something to put on his shopping list.

Keeping the Doctor Away

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Food Hoard Grows

My Excalibur food dehydrator showed up this weekend. Yesterday I fired it up, dehydrating a bunch of Granny Smith apples. I bought four dozen at Costco, and I did two dozen a week or so ago, and the aggravation was what led me to order the dehydrator.

It took seven hours to dehydrate apple slices prepared with a slicing and peeling machine. I’m sure hand-sliced apples would be different, because the thickness would vary. The machines make slices about 1/4″ thick.

The dehydrator expels wet air from the front, and water will condense on anything close to the machine. I guess there is no way to avoid that.

I didn’t dip the apples in lemon juice or sodium bisulfite or anything else that might inhibit oxidation. I wanted them to taste like the apples my grandmother used to dry. Apples that are heavily treated don’t have the same flavor. I figured my apples would come out brown, like the ones I dried in the SUV and oven, but they came out very white.

Here’s the surprising thing: the flavor is amazing. It’s almost like a green apple Jolly Rancher candy. Very strong, and extremely sweet. I can’t figure that out. I don’t know if they’ll make good dried-apple pies, but they’re great to eat as a snack.

The dehydrator has plastic shelves that slide out, and each shelf has a sheet of plastic mesh on it to hold food. You can put the trays in the dishwasher (top rack), but the mesh has to be washed by hand. This is a major pain. But if Perry Stone is right, and food gets expensive, the effort of keeping my dehydrator clean will seem trivial.

I look forward to drying some bananas in it. My trees are producing well.

This dehydrator is a refurb, but I can’t see anything wrong with it. I think I made a good choice. You can get a cheaper Chinese knockoff, but I wanted a warranty and decent customer service.

Proverbs 31 Man

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Son of Man, Can These Dry Bananas Live?

I have given up. I hate blowing money on things I should be able to make, but drying apples in my dad’s SUV is too slow, so I bought a dehydrator. I got a refurb Excalibur. It ought to do the job.

I put a dozen sliced apples in the SUV on a sliding door screen and gave it two days, but the apples just were not dry enough. Maybe it would work in the summer, but I can’t keep fooling around, trying to get it right.

I was looking at dehydrators online, and I felt stupid, but then I thought about all the stuff I throw out. Most of my peppers and bananas end up rotting because I don’t have any place to put them. I never eat my papayas, because they smell funny, but if they were dried, I think that problem would go away.

Bananas are fantastic. They keep you regular and they taste good. But what do you do when twenty pounds of them get ripe over three days?

Ooooh…pineapples. I wonder how hard those are to grow. Dried pineapples are great, and I have a special culinary use for the fresh stuff.

I guess now I can look into jerky. I don’t even know what cuts to use. It would sure beat paying tons of money for the protein bars I eat when I work at church.

Lay up for Yourselves Treasures in the Pantry

Monday, February 7th, 2011

La Niña Knows Who’s the Man

The Holy Spirit is God’s Internet. He arranges us in order and coordinates what we do, even when one of us has no idea what the other is up to. The more Spirit-filled the church gets, the stronger and more obvious the coordination gets.

For a long time, I’ve been hearing about “preparation.” Christians all over the place are looking for rural land. They’re buying guns, tools, and nonperishable food. They’re learning how to take care of themselves. It’s spreading to people, even before they know what’s happening. It has already hit me pretty hard.

I live in a suburb where the fungi and bugs and viruses are so thick, it’s almost impossible to grow things. Citrus is dying (not just here, but worldwide). Tomatoes can’t escape the leaf wilt virus. Nonetheless, I have banana trees now, bearing like crazy. I have one magnificent mango tree and another one which is improving all the time. I have all the hot peppers I could possibly want. I have a strong, healthy lychee tree.

I also have unbelievable tools, plenty of ammunition, a good variety of weapons, and a diesel pickup. Plus two freezers.

Today I got a call from Mike. He has moved back to the DC area, near the remarkable church I wrote about last year. Now he lives in a home that has half an acre of ground. While we were talking about God, I suggested he watch Perry Stone. I mentioned Perry Stone’s vision about future crop failures due to flooding. He cut me off and started telling me how he had been buying bulk food. Mind you, he’s not even tuned into the movement yet. He just felt like it was something he needed to do.

He bought a lot of flour. He’s getting containers. He’s starting seeds for the yard. He just feels like bad times are ahead.

There has to be something to it.

I’m going to be sitting pretty, provided the food shortages aren’t prolonged. I’m stocking up. I ordered a tasty Kentucky ham, plus some sorghum and blackberry jam. I have boxes from Gordon Food Service; I’m putting away pizza sauce, pasta, flour, yeast, and other things. I plan to freeze mozzarella, so while other people are paying out the nose for bad food, I’ll be able to pop out $2 pizzas that beat anything you can buy locally. If there are problems with the power grid, I’m in trouble, but other than that, I’m cool.

I’m Googling “La Niña.” I know we’re having a La Niña year, so I wondered if La Niña causes flooding. Sure enough, it does. At least in some places. Look it up. In October, FEMA warned people in the Pacific Northwest to buy flood insurance.

They ought to quit with “La Niña” and “El Niño” and call the whole business “El Padre.” He’s the one pulling the strings.

I’ve been trying to figure out what to buy. Surely rain won’t hurt every type of food. For example, fish don’t mind rain. On the other hand, when one type of food gets scarce, people move to the others, so they get pressured, too.

God is shaking the world. He’s slapping us awake. Those who will listen will get into gear and start conforming to his principles. They’ll line themselves up with his will and get in the blessing and protection pipeline. Everyone else will have problems. They built their houses on sand, and when things shake, well, look at California. Only things built in accordance with God’s wishes will remain.

What will the result be? Persecution, probably. “My Christian wingnut neighbor bought all the meat and froze it! My Christian wingnut neighbor has a bunch of guns! Look how these hoarding parasites are living while we’re suffering!” It will be like post-Versailles Germany. And Jews are eventually going to get it, too. They are part of God’s plan, so the spirit of Antichrist will keep trying to kill them off, as it did in Germany and Austria (as it does in Gaza). Jewish names like “Madoff” and “Stearns” and “Geithner” and “Bernanke” will be persecution code words. There is a reason Jews are figuring so heavily in our economic disasters.

Some people think the Rapture will be a magical event so sudden and inexplicable, it will essentially force people to believe. They’ll see that millions of Christians are missing, and they’ll have no earthly explanation. Does that make sense to you? I have to wonder. I don’t think God would make it that easy. It would be unlike him. I think we may leave the earth in a wave of executions. I don’t know. I’m not a prophecy expert. Maybe the Bible makes it clear that we’ll just zoom up out of ourselves, instantly, but I don’t recall reading anything like that.

My guess is that the enemy’s people will eventually get the upper hand, and we’ll be murdered in large groups, just like the Jews were. After all, we’ll be “the problem.” This is how the political left will see us. It will be like Cambodia and Cuba. At least I suspect it will.

Christians like to talk about claiming victory and defeating every enemy and so on, but the Bible makes it clear that we do not always win. The spirits that hate us are extremely powerful, and God has not chosen to give us an instant or complete victory over all of them. The battle is still going on. Peter was tortured to death, and Paul was beheaded. I think a solid Christian will live in victory for the majority of his life, but that doesn’t mean you won’t die at the point of a sword somewhere down the line.

The Revelation says that even the two witnesses who are full of God’s power will by martyred. The Antichrist will succeed in murdering them. They’ll be resurrected and assumed into heaven, but no matter how you slice it, they will be killed. If they can’t hold off defeat indefinitely, why should the rest of us expect to do better?

I’ll bet the unsaved start rounding us up and slaughtering us, possibly in the name of their gay, non-judgmental, abortion-loving “god,” and they’ll celebrate over our dead bodies, using our stolen wealth. And then comes the Tribulation, and God’s wrath will make them all want to die.

I don’t know if it will happen in the US. Perry Stone talks of a prophecy about an army of interceders (“intercessors” sounds vulgar to me) who will succeed in getting God to restore America. That would be nice, but my guess is that it would come with a serving of chastisement dwarfing what we’ve seen so far.

People generally don’t turn to God out of gratitude. They don’t get everything they want and then show up in church to pass it out and praise the Lord. We turn back to the Lord after severe beatings caused by our stupidity. That’s my situation, and it’s the most common pattern for Christians. So if suffering is ahead, it will surely bring a good harvest.

I read something interesting in Perry Stone’s magazine this month. He’s a buddy of many of the prominent prosperity preachers, and while he’s not in the same category, he does teach that God will give us “shalom,” which includes having our needs met abundantly. In his magazine, he said something that flies in the face of the over-the-top prosperity gospel. He said that if God didn’t reward our offerings here on earth, it meant we were getting heavenly rewards instead. Not “as well,” mind you. Instead.

I don’t think his friends would be happy to read that. There are still a lot of people out there telling Christians they should all be rich, and that “sowing seed gifts” into the “good soil” of their embarrassing ministries will make it happen. I’m glad to see a popular minister shooting that filth down. The mindless prosperity nuts will be the Christian Madoffs, justifying our persecution in the future.

I’m here to tell you, God will not instantly reward financial gifts with “hundredfold” returns in kind. It has never happened to me. Not once. My needs are met, and I’m fine, but if the TV-evangelist, moneycentric gospel were true, I’d be as rich as…a TV evangelist. God is not an enabler, so I think he resists giving you stuff you will use to destroy yourself, and money can be as bad a poison as arsenic. If you want it so you can have a third helipad in front of your orange mansion, it’s probably not good for you. If you want it so you will have the means and the freedom to complete your mission, there is probably no limit to what will come.

I think money is like food. It’s supposed to serve its purpose and pass through you. If you hold onto too much of it, you just end up full of fat and poop. Constipation and obesity are powerful symbols of the things that go wrong with immature Christians.

Not that I know what it’s like to be one of those. Oh, no. But I have heard about them.

I’m going to run to Costco and get some apples for drying. The Bible says that in the days of famine, I will be satisfied, and I think I will be even more satisfied if I have dried apples for pie.

I’ve Bean Busy

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Delicacy

I got my cranberry sauce, cranberry relish, and pumpkin pies made. I stuck a new ingredient in the relish, and it made a huge difference. I think it’s new, although knowing me, I may have done the same thing last year.

I have two pones of cornbread mashed up in a pot with sage, salt, pepper, fried onions, too much butter, and some other stuff. It’s so good I could eat it right now, cold and wet though it is.

I decided to use some of my precious shucky beans. I grew these a few years back and dried them myself.

These will be incredible. If you’ve never had them, go get some fresh green beans, remove the strings, dry them strung on threads, and cook them in a few months. These will soak overnight, and then tomorrow I’ll toss the water, replace it, add salt pork, and simmer them.

What a joy it is to have shucky beans on hand! I probably have the only shucky beans within 800 miles.

I thought Thanksgiving would be boring, but it’s starting to look like it will be a fantastic meal.

More Banana Nut Bread Experiments

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

More of All the Good Stuff

Yes, I have too many bananas.

I stuck some banana and plantain trees in the yard. The plantains don’t do all that well, probably because I am too lazy to go buy horse manure. The bananas do well enough to cause me problems. I don’t know what to do with them.

Today I’m baking banana nut bread, to see if I can make it good enough for the Trinity church cafe. I started with the same old stale recipe everyone thinks their grandma invented. I added allspice, and I jacked up the other spices. I also used Mike’s secret ingredient to make the cake moister and tastier. And I substituted brown sugar for white.

I think it should be very good. I’ll know pretty soon. After that, I have to figure out what to put on top of it.

More

The banana nut bread is pretty amazing. The added spices woke it up, and Mike’s mystery ingredient improved the texture a great deal. The outer crust is a little chewy now, and the whole thing is moist.

Photos:

This is good enough for church. I can double the salt and maybe make the loaves smaller, so there’s more crust, but other than that, it’s ready.

I’ll have to figure out a topping.

What will I do if people get hooked and the banana trees crap out?

Problem for another day.

More

Oh, man. This stuff is too good. I may have to throw it out in self-defense.

Thanks for the recipe, Lord. Now save me from it.

Poo Find

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

The Internet Rocks

I found free horse manure on Craigslist! Am I wrong to be happy about this?

This has to be the ultimate win/win transaction.

Comforter, Teacher, Housekeeper

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

My House Needs Fiber

I had a moment of clarity last night, unfortunately. It can be very relaxing to be wrong and not know it, so it’s always upsetting when I get an epiphany.

I had the TV on because one of the birds was out of the cage, and I happened to see a show called “Hoarders.” It’s about people who fill their houses with junk, until the rats take over and the kids have to sleep on piles of boxes.

The show bugged me. I’m not a true hoarder, but I’m related to one, and I have lots of hobbies, and I’m absent-minded. Put it all together, and you end up with a person with lots of junk, who puts stuff down in the wrong places and forgets it’s there for weeks or months. Hoarding Lite.

I got up and started relocating things. I had a pile of books and gun parts by my bed. I made room in a closet and stored it. I took tool-related items off the dining room table and put them in the garage. I threw out a number of stupid and worthless items.

Of course, I will need all of those items very badly today. That’s how decluttering works. As soon as the garbage truck drives away, you need whatever is in it.

I hate clutter. It’s like living in a little dirty crevice. It probably raises your blood pressure. But I have a clutter-prone personality. It’s like Felix and Oscar are in my head, duking it out like Rock’em Sock’em Robots.

I have a feeling that the Holy Spirit reduces clutter. Hear me out. When you’re not living for God, you do stupid things with your time and money. You will wander down fruitless paths, involving yourself in futile pursuits. That’s because only God can guide you in the direction you’re supposed to take. Result? You end up with stuff you weren’t supposed to have. Not just stuff, but time obligations. For example, you may give up church because your talented kid has sports practice every day, or simply because you want to squander time watching football on TV. You might end up devoting three hours a night to drinking beer. You may find yourself at a strip bar three times a week, blowing your money.

When God takes over, your priorities and desires change with time. Suddenly, you don’t need an entire closet for your porn collection. Or, like me, you may want to get rid of your delicious Cuban cigars. You find yourself selling things and giving things away. Life becomes more streamlined. You start discarding the things Paul referred to as “dung” so you can make room for the pearl of great price.

I still have a rolling toolbox full of gun stuff by the dining table, and a lot of my canning supplies are sitting on it. I have to move that to the garage. I have to throw out or give away some of the garage objects I will never need. I think it’s safe to throw out my old PC cabinet, and I need to Craigslist my brewing kegs.

I really need to get rid of the Super Genie Lift I inherited from one of my dad’s tenants. A guy at my church said they’ll take it, but it may be ten years before they get around to coming for it.

One of the reasons I don’t like Miami is that there is no space here. I’d like to have a home with an outbuilding for my hobbies. Here, that would run maybe three million dollars. A hundred miles north, maybe two hundred and fifty thousand. Cities are for limited people. If your only hobbies are TV and clubbing, Miami is perfect for you. Add three hobbies, and you’re out of luck. You need to move and get more room.

Last night I thought about my grandfather’s house in Kentucky. It had five bedrooms, including a little spare bedroom that held some of his guns and my grandmother’s sewing stuff. It had a big kitchen, a full dining room, a full living room, a big den, a second den in the basement, a second kitchen in the basement, tons of extra basement square footage, a big foyer, and three baths. It also had a tool shed and a barn, plus a carport and a concrete patio.

Mind you, this was not a mansion. It was just a nice red brick home. It brought $120,000 when the heirs sold it.

THAT is living. Bring your tools. Bring your cooking equipment. Buy three smokers. Get four gun safes. Get a bass boat and an RV and five motorcycles. No problem!

My idea of an ideal home is a three-bedroom CBS house with a big commercial-style kitchen, terrazzo floors, and no curtains, with nothing on the walls except maybe NRA calendars. Put a 1500-square-foot building out back with lots of room for musical instruments, tools, and storage. Give me two acres or more to grow food. I’m done. Let me live there until I die. You would have to hold me at gunpoint to get me to leave that house to go to paradise.

Forget antiques. Forget rugs; they hold dirt and stains and smells. Forget hardwood. It rots, termites eat it, and it makes noise. Put a drain in the kitchen floor so I can spill things. Tile the kitchen walls all the way to the ceiling. Get me white dishes and cups from a restaurant supply house, and put in a deck oven for pizza. Kill every plant that isn’t grass or something that produces food. Give me an entire room for Maynard and Marvin. That’s luxury!

The “stronghold” concept is well known among Christians. Satan has spiritual strongholds we have to conquer. The Canaanite cities Joshua destroyed are symbolic of these strongholds. Addictions and bad habits are strongholds. Bad attitudes are strongholds. A physical illness or poverty may be a stronghold. We’re supposed to break these things down by spiritual warfare.

It has occurred to me that God has strongholds, too. Every human believer is described as a house or a temple or an embassy. We belong to the nation of heaven, even though we live on earth. Within us–within our “walls”–God’s ways prevail. And we have to strive to keep Satan out, and we pray in the Spirit to build ourselves up, so there is something stronger than Satan within us, to repel attackers.

Similarly, a Christian’s home can be a stronghold. It can be an embassy of God. That’s what I want. I know life isn’t supposed to be a breeze, but we’re supposed to live in victory, and it seems to me that within our homes, Satan should be relatively powerless. A stronghold home should be a place where a Christian can retreat and recharge. We have to fight the enemy everywhere else. At home, we should have more peace.

A home should be like a military garrison. You defend it and keep it free from invaders, and from time to time, you make excursions into enemy territory and do damage. Then you retreat back to the garrison and prepare for your next assault.

This is what I want. I don’t want fancy furniture or snooty neighbors or a location shallow people would crave. I want a fortress where I can find a little relief.

Before the clutter show, I say a show called American Pickers, about two guys who go around talking old people into selling them valuable antiques below the market price. They went to visit a man who had twelve buildings full of junk. They had a hard time persuading him to sell them anything. He had to be 75 years old, and this stuff was falling apart, but time after time, they would show him a rusty object and ask the price, and he would tell them it wasn’t for sale. It seemed to me that this guy was in the same boat as the hoarders. He’s going to die, and all that neglected, decaying stuff will be loaded up in dumptrucks and destroyed so the new owners will be able to use the buildings. Crazy.

I also caught a few minutes of a show called Intervention. You can probably guess what that’s about. I plan to record it from now own. It’s helpful to see how tough professional addiction counselors are. It reminded me of an important truth: if you don’t fix a loved one who has an addiction–if you withdraw and wait for them to change, and it doesn’t happen–it doesn’t mean you didn’t try to help. It means the addict didn’t try. Every bad thing that happens to an addict as the result of not trying is the addict’s fault. If someone asks you why you’re not helping, say, “Shouldn’t you be asking why the addict isn’t trying?” Don’t fall for blame-shifting. If you accept even the smallest particle of blame, you might as well be handing the addict a bottle of pills.

It’s funny how I happened to tune in to three very instructive shows, on a night when I was just trying to find entertainment while I communed with my pets. Dang these “coincidences.” They are swarming on me.